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7-Year-Old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Suffers Allergies

December 21, 2010
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Amelia, the Allergy Girl

Constant Ear Infections, Itchy Face, Itchy Paws, Chewing at Skin, and Black Skin on Belly

Amelia visited Doc Truli for a dogicure (that’s a pedicure for dogs!)  Doc could not help but notice a few uncomfortable-looking problems with Amelia’s skin and ears.

The poor little Spaniel suffered constant itchiness in her face, paws and ears.  Her armpits and groin sported black pigment infiltrating the areas.  Her right ear looked like a yeast infection had dug a home in the lining of the ear canal and did not want to leave anytime soon!

Signs of Allergies in Dogs

  • Itchy Face
  • Itchy Paws, Licking Paws
  • Black Skin in the armpits and groin area (axillary and inguinal, respectively)
  • “Dry eye”
  • Recurrent, difficult ear infections that just won’t go away

The “Ears” Have It

Amelia’s right ear showed the classic appearance of a long-time, chronic allergic ear with secondary infection.  The flap was thick and bright pink.  The cartilage scaffolding inside the ear flap and canal felt thick and hard, almost as firm as bone.  The skin showed a corrugated, cobble-stone appearance.  The thick, irregular, swollen ear canal opening was 75% reduced format he normal diameter.  Only 25% of the opening remained to let light and fresh air and ear cleaners into the canal.

red, sore, rough-feeling, smelly insides of a dog ear

Classic, chronic proliferative ear allergy

Black Color on a Dog’s Belly

Amelia’s belly skin revealed a classic sign of chronically irritated dog skin: hyperpigmentation.

When allergies and irritation aggravate the skin, first there’s a redness and itchiness.  The classic pink and red appearance of skin after scratching or a rash illustrates the point.  But, after a long time, the delicate thin skin in the groin and armpit region of a dog will start to pick up melanin pigment from melanocytes living scattered throughout the epidermal outer skin layers.

Many people think the black pigment is dirt and try to wash the color off.  But the black color on the dog’s skin will not wash off!  You must seek out and eliminate the source of the allergic reaction.  Sometimes medication, herbs, vitamin supplements or special shampoos can calm the hypersensitive immune system.

Once you have your dog’s allergies under control, the pigment can slowly go away and the normal pink color will return to the area.

black spreading rash on a dog's delicate belly area indicates long-term atopy, otherwise known as allergies

Canine Inguinal Hyperpigmentation

What Should You Do If Your Dog has Hyperpigmentation, Irritated Ears, or Itchy Face, Paws and Ears?

Call your family veterinarian for a consultation.

Read these VirtuaVet Stories:

Allergy Investigation Checklist

How to Perform a Proper Food Allergy Trial

Top Ten Breeds PreDisposed to Allergies

or Search the Pet Allergies Category for more information and stories.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Rosemary Peppercorn permalink
    November 25, 2014 8:57 am

    It looks like a Japanese Chin.

    • November 25, 2014 12:01 pm

      Right? That’s what I thought. I did meet the parents and they look like 100% Cavaliers.

  2. Raychel D. permalink
    February 1, 2011 2:28 am

    Haha! That’s pretty much what an “English Toy Spaniel” is. The old breed was mixed with pekingese and possibly Tibetan Spaniels. That’s why the “Cavalier” was added, to differentiate between the English Toy (now being called a King Charles Spaniel) and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which is more in form like the old time spaniels (in the paintings from the 1600s.)
    If you google search for “English Toy Spaniel” you will see what I mean!

  3. Raychel D. permalink
    January 28, 2011 1:36 am

    This dog is not a Cavalier, but instead a King Charles Spaniel, also called an English Toy Spaniel.

    • January 29, 2011 9:05 pm

      Actually, Rachel, I think it’s a Pekingese mix. But don’t tell her mom, she’d be heartbroken!


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